It looks like Melania Trump might have borrowed a fashion style from a long-ago first lady for her meeting with Pope Francis in Rome earlier today. It was back in 1993 when Hillary Rodham Clinton donned a similar outfit to what Melania wore on Wednesday when she was given an audience with the pope. If you can remember back to that era, Hillary also brought her mother along to meet Pope John Paul II and her mother was dressed just like Hillary.
Most would agree that no matter what Melania Trump slips into, she looks marvelous. Now with that said, her all-black outfit today was far from her finest hour of style. Looking back to a few decades ago, the solid black getup didn’t do Hillary any favors either and that goes for her mom as well.
While the dresses that were worn by Melania today and Hillary a few decades ago were from different fashion houses and created in different eras, both women looked similar in a rather dressed-down fashion mode. There is nothing that could make the present-day first lady look dowdy, but put that black outfit on another woman and she might just get tagged with “dowdy” as part of her critique.
Melania arrived at the Vatican in a long-sleeved black dress that showed off very little of her legs, or any skin for that matter. She also donned a black veil for topping off this look, much like Hillary did at the Vatican. When you think of Hillary Clinton’s normal mode of style, a very generic-looking pantsuit probably comes to mind. Then when you think of how Melania dresses, more than likely the word “exquisite” covers her entire wardrobe.
As far as comparisons go, Hillary couldn’t hold a candle to Melania’s style and elegance, both inside and out. Melania will go down in history as the epitome of a glamorous first lady, and with that said, she definitely doesn’t have to borrow anything from Hillary Clinton’s style closet. Even with Melania wearing the more generic black ensemble that she wore today, where only her face is seen peeping out, Melania looks like a lady with class and beauty.
It looked as if Melania was somewhat uncomfortable in her clothes today. She usually looks so much more comfortable in her movements. The way she is holding herself in this picture seems to indicate she’s not in her comfort zone. So why did Melania Trump, who has become a modern-day fashion icon, dress all in black for her meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican today? The answer is based on tradition.
The Huffington Post reports that Melania, as well as Ivanka Trump, opted to go old school for their time at the Vatican in Rome. Unlike Pope Francis, his predecessors were fairly strict on the dress code for women who were allowed a private Vatican audience with the pope. The protocol for a woman meeting a Pope starts with the dress code, which dictates black dresses with long sleeves and black veils. It looks like Melania Trump tapped into Michelle Obama’s style as well when meeting the pope. No, Melania still has her own style and it is not borrowed from any of the other past first ladies. It is the dress code that makes all the first ladies appear to be dressing alike through the decades.
Below there are two videos, one showing First Lady Melania and President Donald Trump meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican with Ivanka Trump also along for the event. The other video is from 1993 when President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary visited the Vatican and they took Hillary’s mom along for this meeting. As you can see in the Clinton video, Hillary and her mother are the two women in all-black garb in the picture with Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II.
Despite Pope Francis’s being a bit more relaxed about the way women dress during a private event such as this, the women from the Trump family wanted to remain true to the written rules that are a sign of respect for the pope. This all-black dress code is indicated for most women, cites the Huffington Post, but there are some rare exceptions to this rule, only seven to be exact.
Unless you are one of the few women who fall into the category of what the Vatican deems as privileged, you are expected to adhere to the all-black dress code. Not having to wear all-black is a privilege that’s called “privilege du blanc,” which means “privilege of the white,” when translated into English. This has nothing to do with race; the “white” refers to white clothing.
According to the website History of Royal Women, the term “Privilege du blanc” is the “honor of wearing a white dress and matching mantilla,” or veil as some refer to this type of headdress worn by women. This is an honor awarded to certain Catholic monarchs and is “only retained at the discretion of the Pope.” Even if you are one of the several women who fall under this privileged category that allows you to wear all white, it is an option. You don’t have to adhere to this privilege. If you are on the list below, you can opt for either the all-white or the all-black mode of attire, but it is left to the privileged woman’s discretion.
History of Royal Women reports that there are seven women in the world today who are eligible for Privilege du blanc. The women’s names are listed below.
- HM Queen Sofía of Spain
- HM Queen Paola of the Belgians
- HRH The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg
- HSH The Princess of Monaco
- HM The Queen of the Belgians
- HM The Queen of Spain
- HRH The Princess of Naples
The Queen of the Netherlands is a Catholic, but because Queen Maxima’s husband is not a Catholic, she does not fall under this category of privileged women. When Queen Elizabeth II met with the pope years ago, she took this all-black look to new heights by sporting a black gown with a black veil that was topped off with the Queen’s tiara, as seen in the picture below. This photo of Queen Elizabeth II and Pope John Paul II was taken in 1980 at the Vatican.
Queen Elizabeth isn’t on the list of privilege royals, but she looked dashing during her visit with the pope back in 1980. While the dress code for women does seem a bit “old school,” it really is a nice show of respect in a day and age when so much of this type of tradition has gone by the wayside. Back in the 1960s a woman couldn’t walk into a Catholic church without a hat. If you forgot your hat, you could pin a tissue on your head, but there had to be something on your head. Men couldn’t wear a hat and women were mandated to. Times have changed as men now wear their hats indoors and the only place left for the lavish hats of yesteryear is the Kentucky Derby.
[Featured Image by Alessandra Tarantino-Pool/AP Images]